To many, the idea of putting pen to paper, paint to canvas, fingers to ivory, or scenery to celluloid is the end-all, be-all mark of a creative person. But what if we peeled back that notion and said that “creativity” is more than an inherent trait? A skill not learned, but one that is discovered through years of practice and thoughtful application.
To offer a unique perspective on this idea of creativity and how it can come to life across disciplines, we invited Allen Gannett, founder of TrackMaven and author of the Amazon best-selling book, The Creative Curve, to our San Diego office. Read on for some of his thoughts on why creativity is not exactly what you might think, as well as our takeaways for unlocking your own creative potential.
Creativity is more than just a “gift”
The idea of a “creative genius” is, by and large, a product of mainstream media. We hear stories about individuals who possess almost superhuman qualities, the likes of which the rest of us may never come across. But while being a Creative certainly takes a degree of natural ability, there’s more to it than that. Creativity also requires:
Study: Exposing yourself to and learning from the works of your medium
Discipline: Committing to your own self-development and extending your limits
Practice: Honing your skills, perfecting your process, becoming an expert
The creative genius of Mozart, for example, was not without years of training, long hours of work and practice, and a lifetime dedication to a very specific skillset.
Gannett goes on to mention that “genius” isn’t even necessarily aligned with IQ. He references the threshold theory, proposing that creativity and intelligence are only correlated up to an IQ of about 104 (which is relatively average). According to the study, beyond this marker everyone has the same creative potential. The majority of us possess the abilities to be more creative at what we do, no matter the field.
Creativity is something you must nurture
How do you tap into your own creativity? As mentioned, part of being creative is practice. Here are some ways Gannett mentions to nurture creativity in your own sphere of work:
Quiet your left brain
The brain is divided into two hemispheres: the logical and reasoning left, and the artistic and reflective right. When we experience a sudden stroke of brilliance — a “lightbulb moment,” if you will — it’s typically when we’re quieting our left to make space for the right. It’s not uncommon for these moments to occur when you’re going for a run by yourself, or taking a shower (see the genius of showerthoughts), or driving home from work: your left brain is on autopilot, letting you tune into your right. The more you can create intentional space to listen to your right brain, the more you can nurture creative thinking in your day to day.
Seek out inspiration
Want to master a craft? Learn about it. Watch how people do it. Know what it takes to become an “expert.” It shouldn’t be surprising that some of the biggest creatives in history are also mass consumers of content in their respective fields (read about Netflix Chief Content Officer, referenced in The Creative Curve). It’s not because they’re trying to imitate another person’s work: rather, they want to soak in styles and techniques, to find creative inspiration. It’s not about learning a little about a lot; it’s learning a lot about a little. This is how you become an expert. If you want to foster more creativity in your line of work, actively consume more relevant material.
The creative charge
Even if “creative” isn’t part of your job title or function, you can still be creative. In fact, we should all consider leaning into our right brain more often and challenge ourselves to try on a different perspective. Maybe you’re not writing your next concerto, but you can still apply creativity in the way you solve problems, collaborate with others, approach your work. The charge of creativity is to seek it out to the best of your ability—and to apply it in the best way you can.
Want to learn more about how we foster creativity at Red Door? Get in touch with us or reach out on any of our social platforms.